3rd Grade Dictionaries

The Kearney Dawn Rotary’s annual Dictionary Distribution event is fast approaching, scheduled for Dec 11-15. This marks our 19th annual campaign, and we are excited to hand out 698 dictionaries this year. It’s a project that consistently earns high praise and is often lauded as our most enjoyable project each year. However, its success is entirely dependent on the collective effort and dedication of all our members.

Over the years we have distributed 11,258 books. We distribute to ALL elementary 3rd grade schools in Buffalo County, 18 total schools. This includes ALL Kearney Public (9 schools), Amherst, Elm Creek, Gibbon, Glenwood, Pleasanton, Ravenna, Shelton and both Faith schools, Faith Christian and Zion Lutheran.

We are often asked “Why do we still give a dictionary, that’s outdated. Children now have access to technology; computers, laptops, tablets and phones?”

  • A book is a focused learning experience, and removes the temptation of “surfing” or being distracted.
  • A book is a tactile experience. Flipping through the pages provide a personal and interactive experience. There is a sense of accomplishment, exploring and finding new words, definitions, usage and proper grammar.
  • A book is “Always on.” It doesn’t need power or have technical issues.
  • A book can be kept, owned, for a lifetime. For many children this may be their first or only book that belongs to them.
  • A book is personal. You can write notes to yourself in it. You can turn it into a game, finding new words and definitions to expand your own vocabulary.
  • A book is our gift to the future of these children. It might seem insignificant to us, but to the children it is personal and special. It’s a simple gift of our love to them.


Our greatest supporters, the teachers, tell us that they ALWAYS look forward to this gift, and ask us to never quit.

The public is also invited to participate again this year through our partners at Kearney Area Community Foundation and “Give Where you Live.” Early giving is open online through midnight Dec.7th at https://www.givewhereyoulive.net/organization/Kearney-Dawn-Rotary-Dictionary-Project. Our annual goal to fully fund this project is $2,000.

The mission of the Dictionary Project is:

“The goal of this program is to assist all students in becoming good writers, active readers, creative thinkers, and resourceful learners by providing them with their own personal dictionary. The dictionaries are a gift to each student to use at school and at home for years to come. Educators see third grade as the dividing line between learning to read and reading to learn, so we encourage our sponsors to give dictionaries each year to children in the third grade.”